Internationalisation and multilingualism made visible and audible

 

Language learning while relaxing and having fun at the first meeting of the German Language Club in the University Think Corner.

 

In 2013, The Language Centre’s unit of Support for Teaching and Learning established some new international activities: Course Assistants, Language Clubs, and Language Buddies.  The aim with all of these is to offer Finnish and international students, and other members of the university, the chance to meet each other, use different languages and get to know other cultures.

International students as Course Assistants on language courses

The course assistant programme is aimed at international students from the whole University who would like to get to know Finnish students and the University by helping Language Centre teachers on courses in their own language. They can take part, for example, in group discussions in the classroom or in pronunciation practice, or they may give presentations about their own cultural backgrounds. Outside the classroom, they may support discussions in Moodle or run Language Clubs. The assistant scheme was piloted in Autumn 2013 in the German, French, Italian, Spanish and Russian language units. Since the first experiences were encouraging, the programme started in earnest in Spring 2014. International students can also gain study credits for their participation as assistants.

Encounters in language clubs

Kieliklubit

Small groups share language learning experiences at the first meeting of the German Language Club.

The basic idea behind the Language Clubs is to arrange informal, low-threshold meeting places and opportunities to speak different languages, whatever the level of skills. In 2013, the first clubs were set up in Spanish, German, Swedish, Chinese, Portuguese and Russian. Depending on the participants, the clubs varied greatly in the way they worked. For example, the Portuguese and Russian clubs met in the University Think Corner as part of the Chinese and Brazilian theme weeks, while the German club held games and wine-tasting evenings. The clubs were attended by students as well as by other members the University.

“A really nice concept; should be organised more often! The social atmosphere great for language learning and using.”

"Wonderful meeting Brazilians (and the few Portuguese people present); I knew they were somewhere! Looking forward to coming back and practicing my Portuguese!"

Language Buddies immediately attracted nearly 200

Language Buddies Lisa and Opri

Language Buddies work in pairs, with each partner teaching their own language while simultaneously learning the other. They operate informally and in ways that are mutually agreed upon. In the process, the Buddies make new acquaintances and increase their knowledge of the culture and customs of another country. For Buddies to find each other, an electronic noticeboard was set up in Moodle where visitors could put up their own notice or look for a Buddy in the existing notices. By the end of 2013 nearly 200 users – both students and staff - had registered, and more than 30 notices had been posted, including speakers of Korean, Persian and Japanese. The most wished-for Buddies were Finnish and English speakers.